Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time


Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.

"Consider the Humility of God!" Saint Francis urged his disciples. This has been a constant meditation for the People of God. We discover that humility in Genesis when the Lord, who will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with all-consuming fire from heaven, is willing to dicker with Abraham over fifty worthy people -- although they both know there is only one worthy family in Gomorrah.
We hear of it in today's reading: the Lord is willing to "come with" his people on the dusty wilderness road of Sinai, and to reside with them in a tent. (Saint John would use that word in the prologue of his gospel.)
King David was astonished that the Lord who owes nothing to anyone would promise that a Son of David would always rule in Jerusalem.
New Testament stories are even more abundant, beginning with God's resting in the Womb of the Virgin Mary. The great English poet/priest John Donne reflected on God's gift to her:
Thou hast light in dark, and shutt'st in little room
Immensity, cloister'd in thy dear womb.
His birth in Bethlehem, flight into Egypt, silent years in Nazareth, homelessness and poverty, his death and burial in a borrowed tomb: all speak of God's humility.
Saint Francis considered the Scripture stories of God's self-abasement and then pointed at the tabernacle where the Lord abides in every Church:
O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread. Consider, brothers, the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him, and be ye humbled that ye may be exalted by Him. Do not therefore keep back anything for yourselves that He may receive you entirely who gives Himself up entirely to you.
Many of us find it hard to wrap our minds around that understanding of God. We're so bedazzled by the Supreme Authority of God, and by our own investment in Power -- financial, military, social, mechanical, computational, etc. -- that we hesitate to recognize God's humility as his first and most attractive trait.
We might speak of the condescension of God and then compare it to the condescension of powerful human leaders, a display that is more hypocritical than real, and thoroughly unconvincing.
Jesus' crucifixion and death are convincing. His pathetic cry, "Why have you abandoned me?" shatters our belief that he never really let go of his superiority. He was truly dead. If he did not die we are not saved from death and our faith is useless. It is just another hypocritical sham which prevents us from admitting the vanity and emptiness of human life.
"Consider the Humility of God" above all else and you will begin to understand the joy and the wisdom of the Saints. Catching the Spirit of Divine Humility, they became true servants of God's people.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.